Russia claims that it has captured a village on the outskirts of Bakhmut to the north as it intensifies its efforts to encircle the front-line city in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.
According to a statement released by the Russian defense ministry on Tuesday, aerial assistance was used to help seize the village of Blahodatne, which is located approximately five kilometers (three miles) north of Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian government did not respond immediately.
The announcement came three days after the leader of the Russian Wagner Group said the mercenary group had taken control of Blahodatne in an attack that Ukraine claimed to have repulsed.
Russia’s first significant victory on a battleground since capturing Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in July would be the capture of Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of roughly 75,000 people.
Russian artillery bombardments on Bakhmut on Tuesday resulted in the deaths of two people, one of which was a boy, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
In the past few weeks, Russian forces have achieved a number of gains in the region, most notably taking control of the salt-mining town of Soledar to Bakhmut’s north.
Additionally, earlier this month, Russia said it had taken control of Klishchiivka, a village in the Donetsk region of Ukraine with a pre-war population of roughly 400. The village is located around nine kilometers (six miles) south of Bakhmut.
Along the same eastern front, a sizable Russian force started an attack this week against the Ukrainian-held stronghold of Vuhledar. Despite claims to the contrary from Russian authorities, Kyiv asserts that it has so far successfully repelled the attack.